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Content last updated 1998
web applications
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A Web application is a computer application delivered using Web technology. This sounds trite, but it is actually a very important point. All the qualities of a traditional application need to be offered: Performance, Robustness, 24 hour Availability, Scalability, Security and Support.

The Web was never designed to be a transaction oriented environment, that is to support database style applications where many users perform multi step operations. The original purpose of the Web was as a means to transport text based information. The technical protocols used for transporting information, such as http, ftp and HTML, were designed for that purpose, not transaction processing.

A true Web application must be robust
The most notable difference between the Internet and an Intranet is, (or should be), speed. Internal networks operate usually run at better than 100 times the speed of the public Internet on the local network. But the links between sites may actually be slower, e.g. between your UK and German offices. It is not always clear where on your Intranet information is stored, so users may experience anything from instantaneous response times, to a very long wait.

Many companies hope to deliver products that can be loaded onto their own, or their client's Intranet. It is usually safe to assume some performance improvement versus the public Internet, but not always. The 30kb size per page suggested above might be increased x2 or x3, but don't assume 300kb is reasonable unless you are really sure the infrastructure is up to it.

Many companies mandate browsers internally, so it may seem safe to deliberately choose a specific browser. However, how many Intranet applications will soon become limited access Internet applications? You cannot control your customers and partners.

Differences between Intranet and Internet applications
There a 2 major consequences:
  1. There is no point in developing a Web Application if, ultimately, you cannot deliver quality of service. Customers and users are clamouring for Web front ends to applications, but if they cannot get quality of service that will soon change.
  2. Test, and test thoroughly using all the likely browsers you will deploy upon. A Web front end is a deployment strategy, not an excuse to forget all the disciplines of developing high quality applications
2 Consequences

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